ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels have owned up to deadly attacks on police and military targets in the southern Philippines that killed at least a dozen people.
Dencio Madrigal, a spokesman for the New People’s Army (NPA)-Valentine Palamine Command, said the attacks on a police base and military forces in Davao del Sur’s Matanao town was a punishment for their “reign of terror” over indigenous tribes and other communities opposing mining operations in the province.
“The March 10 police headquarters raid and ambush demonstrated the NPA’s determination to punish the fascist AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP [Philippine National Police] units operating in Davao del Sur and its boundaries. The 39th Infantry Battalion remains as security forces and fascist thugs of Glencore Xstrata – a mining giant poised to continue to exploit the nearly 100,000 hectares of mining-rich ancestral lands of Lumad Blaans and peasants in the region,” Madrigal said.
“The AFP and PNP units in Matanao and other towns in Davao del Sur deserved to be disarmed and punished because in their defense of Xstrata mining, they have killed, injured, discharged aerial bombs, all part of their reign of terror against the Lumad and settlers communities who have fiercely battled against mining since 1992 when the project was still under the Western Mining Corp.,” he said.
Madrigal said rebel forces seized seven M16 automatic rifles and several ammunition vests, two nine-millimeter pistols, one .45-caliber pistol, and a radio communication set from the police headquarters. He said the raid left 3 policemen and two other lawmen were killed in the fighting that also left two rebels dead.
He also accused the police of coddling drug pushers and other criminal syndicates in the province. “They are, thus, legitimate targets of the people’s army at any time of the year,” he said.
Madrigal also condemned the arrest of nine civilians on suspicion they were part of the NPA forces that attacked in Matanao town. “Their failure at intelligence work, notwithstanding, the Matanao PNP trained its eyes on nine hapless civilians, namely, Renante Urot, Joey Alberca, Rufoboy Gama, Laudemer Gama, Noel Morangit, Roger Natonton, Julio Sales, John Rey Pabillo and Christopher Sales.”
He said nine soldiers were also killed, including Lt. Ludevico Alejo; and seven more wounded after rebels remotely detonated a military truck carrying reinforcements in the village of Asbang. He also dismissed allegations by the Eastern Mindanao Command that the NPA has been using landmines.
“The country’s mining laws and the state’s counter-insurgency policy, the Oplan Bayanihan, have resulted in the massive and indiscriminate pillage of resources, killings, and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilian communities,” he said.
Jorge Madlos, a regional rebel spokesman, has previously warned mining firms and fruit plantations in the southern Philippines.
Madlos said their targets are Russell Mines and Minerals, Apex Mining Corp. and Philco in southern Mindanao; Dolefil, Del Monte and Sumifru plantations in northern Mindanao; TVI Resource Development Philippines whose operations in ancestral domain of indigenous Subanen and Moro tribes are being opposed by the rebel group.